There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Beyond this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and neglected by health professionals and patients. Knowing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they look for solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate efficiently and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently a problem for individuals who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be significantly improved by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are greatly decreased, according to research, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians endorse routine hearing examinations. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also watch for symptoms of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.